Following my previous blog on the offshore interests of the Scott/Buccleuch family, the Panama Papers have emerged. I look forward to interrogating the 2.6 terabytes of data once it is made available for public examination in early May.
“In view of media reports and comment on regarding Pentland Ltd., a wholly-owned subsidiary of Buccleuch Estates Ltd., and the Stage 3 debate on the Land Reform (Scotland) Bill tomorrow, Buccleuch wishes to clarify the position of this company.
1. Pentland Ltd is a UK trading company which is subject to UK taxation. All tax that has been due from Pentland Ltd has been paid in the UK throughout the existence of the company.
2. All directors of Pentland Ltd are UK residents and UK taxpayers and are members of the Buccleuch family.
3. The ‘beneficial’ owners of Pentland have never been concealed and any land holdings owned by the company have been clearly identifiable as ‘Buccleuch’ land holdings.
4. Pentland was originally registered in the Cayman Islands in the 1970s, not for taxation purposes but to accommodate a range of international assets and investments.
5. Since the late 1990s, the assets of Pentland Ltd have been wound down and the company has traded exclusively in the UK. It is not permissible to re-register the company which currently owns a small property development in Canonbie, Dumfries and Galloway.”
This is a very interesting statement and reveals the sophistry at the heart of discussions about the use of secrecy jurisdictions.
Take the first sentence, for example.
Pentland Ltd. is a company registered at HSBC International Trustee Ltd., PO Box 484GT, Grand Cayman, Cayman Islands.
That is a fact.
This cannot be spun as “Pentland Ltd is a UK trading company”
Two other observations are worth making.
The statement suggests that Pentland Ltd. has had an association with the Buccleuch family since the 1970s and point 4 explicitly claims that Pentland Ltd. was originally registered in the Cayman Islands in the 1970s. In fact, Pentland Ltd. was not incorporated until 1990 as evidenced by its incorporation certificate here. So what was going on between the 1970s and 1990?
There is also some confusion about the relationship between Peatland Ltd. and Buccleuch. In this media statement from 2009, it is stated that “Pentland Ltd is a company under the ownership of the Buccleuch Group” when in fact it did not become a wholly owned subsidiary until 2013. Indeed in 2002, Anderson Strathern had written to the Keeper of the Registers of Scotland in plain terms that “Pentland Ltd is registered in the Cayman Islands and is not part of the Buccleuch Group.” From the statement above, it would appear tat it has always been part of the Buccleuch Group.
We know nothing more about Hayes One Ltd., Clifton House, 75 Fort Street, PO Box 1350, Grand Cayman, KY1-1108, Cayman Islands.
And we still do not know who is the beneficial owner of of Buccleuch Estates Ltd.and how this is structured.